Some TV commercials have apparently unconsidered unfortunate implications; some have subtle details only observable on careful and multiple viewings.

This recent Subaru Outback commercial is one which I was especially fond of. It begins with a birthday surprise -- our thirtysomething protagonist has been gifted by his wife with a painting easel. And his reaction is indeed, one of wide-eyed jaw-dropping surprise. The couple proceed to travel to strikingly scenic locals where he paints and paints, seemingly masterfully -- but in the end his skills are revealed as ill-developed. His wife is apparently humoring his poor skills, hanging up all of his paintings, but putting his latest painting "upside-down" (though it has no clearly discernible "up"), to his displeasure. And why is he upset that it's upside down? Because he does see himself as an artist. Art is important. Art is part of our evolutionary history. Art is part of our spiritual journey.

Some would pan this ad as displaying a disconnect both in talent and the relationship involved, but the meaning in his work is discernible. I think it's absurd to suppose that she has simply humored him, that she has allowed herself to be dragged along to all these marvelous vistas without taking any enjoyment in them herself. And, the final shot reveals, he has painted her -- multiple times, and not terribly. And so I submit that this is indeed a commercial about love.

Here, by the way, is the accomanying inspirational song.


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